Guest Post: Lilac Mills
Today is mys top on the blog tour for Lilac Mills' latest novel, And a Sixpence for Luck. The story follows Daisy who is rather down on her luck, and when her grandmother convinces her to hide a silver sixpence in the Christmas pudding, things take a rather interesting turn. The novel is a treat just in time for the holiday season, and I am very happy that Lilac Mills has agreed to share a little about her writing experience.
I’m sometimes asked “how do I write?” and I have to say, it varies. By how I write, I mean, do I plot meticulously or do I start with word one and hope for the best?
I think it’s a little of both, though with chick-lit/romances, the ending has to be a happy one (my readers would lynch me if the ending was anything else!), so because of that, I know where the story will end up. What I’m often not so sure of is how it will get there.
I think of the writing process as a road journey – I know where I want to get to, but as to which roads I will travel along, it’s not that clear. Sometimes I start along on path, only to become side-tracked and shunted onto a totally different stretch of tarmac. And sometimes, that tarmac leads to a dead end, and sometimes it can reveal the most wonderful scenery and take me in exactly the direction the plot needs to go to make the story work.
Then there’s the other way of looking at the question, “how do you write?” by considering the physicality of it. Am I a pen and paper person, or a keyboard queen?
Both, actually. I’ve dabbled and experimented with several different methods of getting my often vague and unformed story from my head and onto the shelves.
My first novel, Under the Cherry Tree, was mostly typed directly into a word document, though I also distinctly remember using pen and paper whilst on a flight to Spain because I didn’t have any charge left in my laptop.
My second novel, Elephant and Pinky Moon, was all typed, but when I say “typed” I actually mean that huge chunks of it was written using my phone, wherever I happened to be when the muse struck. I quickly learned not to leave anything in my draft folder, having lost nearly a whole chapter when I pressed “delete” by mistake, but to email it to myself the second I stopped typing.
This method also resulted in some very strange typos when I typed one word into my phone and the phone decided it preferred another one instead. At the end of some sessions, I often had sentences which made virtually no sense at all, and left me scratching my head, wondering what I’d written.
And a Sixpence for Luck was fully written the old-fashioned way, and again the reason for this was due to travelling, as I didn’t want to entrust my laptop to the baggage-hold (the only place it was allowed on the return flight), so pen and paper it was! Luckily for me, I write fast – but I’m not always able to decipher my squiggles. I wrote And a Sixpence for Luck in two weeks, most of it spent on the beach in forty degree heat, and there was me, trying to imagine snow and Christmas trees!
But at some point, I had to get this mess of hand-written sheets of paper onto the computer, and this was where the fun began. I found I write faster and more fluidly when I use a pen (I tried a stylus for direct input onto a computer, but it’s not the same), but there was still the time-consuming effort of typing the manuscript up. What time I might have gained from hand-writing, was soon lost by typing.
I tried dictating, first into my phone, but found I had the same problem with substituted words, and the additional problem of the phone not recognising six words out of ten – it must be my accent! It also failed to recognise basic commands like “new line” and typed “Ulie” instead of moving the cursor down.
Then I tried connecting a mic to the computer and using the speech to text service in Windows (falls about laughing). I’ve never spent so much time on something so unfit for purpose in my life. More often than not, it came out with whole strings of random words, and when I deleted them, it would have another go without me asking and produced yet more gobbledygook. Grrr!
In a last ditch attempt to find something (anything) which would work, I went online and found speechnotes.co. What a fantastic bit of kit, and no, I haven’t got shares in them. Finally, I found a method which works for me – handwrite, then dictate. Now all I need to do is make sure I have a pen that works!